6 June 2024

Montreal, Canada  (AFP) Canadian police filed 12 new charges Tuesday against a man accused of selling a substance over the internet to assist people with suicides, potentially sending more than 1,000 packages across dozens of countries.

Authorities suspect Kenneth Law, 57, of marketing the substance, often used as a food additive, online to people at risk of self-harm.

The announcement comes after police in Britain said Friday that they were investigating 88 deaths there linked to substances sold by Canadian websites.

The new charges of “counselling or aiding suicide” filed Tuesday bring the total against Law to 14, all of which stem from cases around the Canadian province of Ontario, inspector Simon James of the York Regional Police said.

“The victims were Ontario residents. They were both male and female between the ages of 16 and 36 years of age,” James told a press conference.

James on Tuesday said over 1,200 packages may have been sent out to more than 40 countries.

“We don’t know what all those packages contained,” said James, noting that approximately 160 packages had been sent within Canada.

Law was arrested by police in early May. Police at the time alleged that he had “distributed and marketed the substance online to target individuals at risk of self-harm.”

He is currently in custody awaiting trial at the Ontario Court of Justice in Newmarket.

Law, who worked as a chef in a Toronto hotel, intends to plead not guilty, his lawyer said.

“We’re in the early stages of the procedure, but he intends to defend himself,” Matthew Gourlay told AFP.

Several parallel investigations are also underway in the United States, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, according to British media reports.

“We’re communicating and sharing info with police services from all over the world,” said James.

Law’s next court appearance is scheduled for September 27.